Cocoa Recipes and Health Benefits
At my table, I am serving up recipes made from cocoa powder and teaching you about cocoa powder’s health benefits and nutrition facts. Oh, how I love chocolate recipes such as chocolate pudding and homemade healthy hot cocoa. Read on for cocoa recipes and health benefits.
How Cocoa Powder is Made
Cocoa powder is made after cocoa beans are roasted and ground into a liquid state. The cocoa butter (fat) is removed to make chocolate and the excess is made into cocoa powder. I thought they made the chocolate from the powder by adding fat. Cocoa is what is left after Cocoa butter is extracted from Cocoa beans. If you would like more information on how chocolate is made from bean to bar see my blog Link.
Two Types of Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder: Hershey’s, Nestle, Generic Baking Cocoa are the brands. This cocoa powder is lighter in color and is naturally acidic or bitter with a PH of 5 or 6.
Dutch Chocolate powder: Darker in color, this cocoa powder is used for baking, and has a mild taste. They make it by washing the cocoa with potassium carbonate and an alkalizing agent. This neutralizes the cocoa and is why it is called the Dutch process. This makes this cocoa not as healthy as regular cocoa. It loses some antioxidants in the wash.
According to the UDA, 1 Tbsp of cocoa has 12 Calories, 82 mg potassium, 1 gram of protein, 12 mg caffeine, and some iron.
Health Benefits of Cocoa
Cocoa is rich in polyphenol and flavanols which are antioxidants. These are also found in tea, fruits, vegetables, and chocolate. Polyphenols lower inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and blood sugars, and improve nitric oxide levels in the blood.
Remember -when cocoa is processed to make it more palatable fats and sugar are added which decrease some of these good effects on the body.
I love chocolate and joked with another coworker who also enjoyed it. We would say, “if we die of a heart attack it would most likely be from Chocolate”. Thankfully I have gotten wiser in my chocolate choices. Such as, eating only Dark Chocolate which is less sugary than milk chocolate.
Cocoa also lowers your risk of heart attacks and strokes and improves blood flow to the brain. This improves your mood and some symptoms of depression. The tryptophan in Chocolate turns to serotonin and the caffeine makes you feel good.
No wonder cocoa or chocolate makes you feel better.
Believe it or not Cocoa may help with weight control. It helps regulate your energy, reduces your appetite and inflammation, and helps you feel full. Some studies found that people who consumed chocolate had a lower BMI than those who ate it less often. Cocoa is also noted for Cancer prevention from its antioxidants.
Healthier Ways to Eat Cocoa/Chocolate
If you buy Chocolate buy dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher to give you satiety and health benefits. A little square of dark chocolate goes a long way. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are wise choices.
Cocoa Powder – Healthy Hot Cocoa Recipe
Here is a Recipe I figured out last winter and love.
- 1 cup skim milk or Almond Milk
- 1 tbsp. cocoa powder- I like the Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup- antioxidant benefits in this
- 1/2-3/4 tsp Turmeric
- Pinch of black pepper- (needed to absorb the turmeric)
Mix with wire whip and heat in microwave 1.5-2 minutes. Whip again. You may have sludge at the bottom of the cup after drinking it- but it is so yummy.
Homemade Chocolate Microwave Pudding Recipe
I love this when I am in a chocolate mood. Low sugar, no fat, and high in calcium. Add sliced banana to the top of the warm pudding and add some whipped cream.
- 2 ¾ cup skim milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp. Cocoa powder
- ¼ cup Cornstarch- use 3 TBSP if you like it less thick
- 1 tsp vanilla
Whip and cook in microwave for 3 minutes and whip and cook another 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla when done. Ladle into small bowls and top with whipped cream and or sliced bananas. I like my pudding hot, but you can cool it and it will be thicker.
Ways to Use Cocoa Powder with Less Fat and Sugar
- Add cocoa powder to smoothies and protein powder with a banana to add nutritional benefits.
- Make homemade hot cocoa and pudding as in the recipes above.
- Add a small amount of cocoa powder to your oatmeal with honey or maple syrup.
At last, Enjoy some chocolate treats, knowing you are getting your calcium and cocoa. Yum! Cocoa Recipes and Health Benefits. Do you have any great ways you like to use cocoa powder? Comment below.